Posts Tagged ‘Rashaad Penny’

Did Ty Gangi beat our defensive backs like a rug on a line?  Yes, yes he did.  Mr. Gangi was 33/54 with 3 touchdowns.  Mr. Gangi, no doubt, wrapped his throwing arm in ice after the game.  He offered the baseball equivalent of a complete game loss.  414 total passing yards will impact the elbow.  His primary wide receivers, Mr. O’Leary-Orange and Mr. Demps, ran wild among our defensive back field.  Respectively, these two enjoyed evenings of 11/214 and 5/110.  Mr. O’Leary-Orange scored not once, not twice, but on three occasions as the fog slowly drifted into the stadium.

Yet, given the incredible game offered by Rashaad Penny, the game was never in doubt.  What did Rashaad not do?  Very little.  Why not let him punt or kickoff at least once during the New Mexico game next week.  Just to see.  To sum his performance, as my cousin in Rhode Island would say, wicked good.  Each time he ran out of the Aztec backfield he averaged 9.2 yards.  Phenomenal to say nothing of the kickoff return and punt return for touchdowns.  Hats off to the offense for exceptional blocking to accompany Mr. Penny’s substantial skill.

Christian Chapman had a solid line of 15/23/0 and one touchdown for 205 yards.  He suffered the spectacle of three drops during the first half, yet his body language never betrays the shouting in his skull.  Those 15 completions were shared with nine different receivers.

Returning to the defense, specifically the backs, the second half was a great improvement upon the first half debacle whereupon time and again, Mr. O’Leary-Orange and Mr. Demps were at least three steps closer to the end zone than the Aztec dbs.  Giving up long passes of 82 and 53 yards offers plenty of opportunity for in-game improvement.  That punctuation was delivered by Trey Lomax finally holding on to an intercepted pass (he should have had at least two, probably three).

Why did Jeff Horton pull Christian Chapman for Ryan Agnew with nine minutes remaining in the second quarter?  I was full of questions.  All of which were answered when Mr. Horton returned Mr. Chapman to the field after a penalty gift of a first down.  However, the offense did reestablish momentum and self-induced disaster was avoided.  Just like the Aztec defense.

Congrats and recognition to the 29,000+ at the game.  A loud bunch.  Sounded like a few thousand more.

Finally, the penalty line of 7/75 was excessive.  We do not need to revisit that challenge with one MWC game remaining along with whichever bowl we play.  Keep our hands and emotions to ourselves.

9-2/5-2.  Here’s hoping for another double-digit win season.

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What a game, what a game.

Best loss of Rocky’s tenure.  Why?  Because we marched 99 yards in 1 minute, 7 seconds and scored.  Christian Chapman looked like a quarterback.  No offense (or pun), but at times I wonder if he can throw for 200 plus yards on a regular basis.  He did so Saturday.

As for Rocky’s two-point conversion call that failed, to those of you whining, stop.  Rocky being Rocky is part of Rocky.  Also, this is the second loss of the season and first MWC loss.  Remember the days when we dreamed of a two loss season?  Wouldn’t that be swell?  Guess what?  Two losses is swell.

I listened to the game on the phone for one very good reason:  Finding a bar in Pacific Beach that features C-CBS is akin to finding fresh water in the Pacific.  I do enjoy listening to Uncle Teddy broadcast Aztec athletic events, but I must ask Ted to refrain from the “depleted defense” comments.  No we are not.  Na’im McGee, Randy Ricks, Tyler Morris and John Carroll have been sidelined most of the year.  We are fine.  Losing Derek Babiash, Billy Vaughn, Jr and Fred Melifonwu to self-inflicted idiocy was also overcome.  The Aztecs are loaded with talented football players.  No more “woe is us” dear Uncle Teddy.

However, I felt that we arrived not ready to commit to the season long, less South Alabama, idea of arriving in a bad mood to greet opponents with football in hand.  We were lethargic especially the defensive back 5.  Tackling with both arms and wrapping up seemed to be optional.  I trust this will not be an issue for the remainder of the season.

Hats off to Jay Henderson.  I do not know the football sin committed by Ryan Dunn, but Mr. Henderson was a more than able replacement.  Another deep sweep of the hat to Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington.  These two make for an ultra talented pair of kick off returners on an extraordinary level.  A side comment to Mr. Penny regarding his runs from scrimmage, please stop running out of bounds.  Take a hit and get another couple of yards.

I opened with referencing the closing drive, I must also mention the end of the first half drive.  Not quite the length of the field, but close.  And a touchdown as well.  The SDSU offense does impress when time is of the essence.

Wyoming’s qb, Josh Allen, is a first round pick in the making.  Impressive arm and decision making.  The Wyoming defensive line was also effective.  Donnel Pumphrey rarely found a rushing attempt in excess of four yards.  Cowboy linebackers were quick to fill the rare hole.

Returning to the Aztec defense, allowing 5.8 yards per play while showing the Pokes 84 offensive plays is the perfect recipe for a long day.  Further testament to the lackluster effort of the back 5 was Mr. Allen’s 17.6 yards per completed pass.  Far too much grass was given.  Also, when was the last time an opposing qb threw 31 attempts while rushing for 69 yards?  Tis a no-no.  Finally, Wyoming enjoying 9/17 on third down conversions and 2/2 on fourth down is not to be repeated.  A poor Aztec defensive effort.

Colorado State closes the MWC season less the conference championship game.  Hmm.  Senior day.  Alex Barrett, Kyle Kelley, Calvin Munson, Austin Wyatt-Thayer, Malik Smith and Damontae Kazee all say “good-bye” to the Q and Aztec faithful.  Motivated?  Good luck to the Rams offense.  The flip side features Kwayde Miller, Nico Siragusa, Arthur Flores, Daniel Brunskill, Curtis Anderson and a running back by the name of Donnel Pumphrey playing together for the last time down the street from the beach.  Should be fun.

9-2/6-1.

 

Defensively, this game was ugly.  Butt ugly.  28-0 becomes 28-21.  Northern Illinois marched up and down the field during the third quarter at an alarming rate of ease and efficiency to the tune of 14 points.  The Huskies converted 3 of 5 fourth down attempts.  Shame on us.  Never, ever, should NIU convert 60% of anything against the Aztec defense.  Thankfully, Damontae Kazee and Trey Lomax blessed their defensive teammates with well timed interceptions.  NIU drives were stopped and points prevented.

The officiating crew was in love with their yellow flags, but this game makes for consecutive games featuring 100+ yards (107 if you were counting) administered via the flying yellow flag.  Ridiculous.  Rocky and staff need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with the boys about keeping emotions checked.  Imagine if we simply cut in half the free yardage we handed NIU and Cal.  Fewer points offered to opponents would be the not so surprising result.

A “thank you”to the NIU punter who averaged a whopping 29.4 yards per punt.

A “thank you” to Tanner Blain for placing three punts inside the five and one inside the ten.  Well done, Tanner.  Your best game as an Aztec.

Speaking of best game as an Aztec, Kahale Warring makes his first catch and touchdown simultaneously.

Christian Chapman had a serviceable game (11/19/126), though the three touchdown passes were nice.  I want to see Mikah Holder and Eric Judge DIVE to catch a pass!  Mikah had two catchable balls and Eric one that required leaving their feet and becoming parallel to the ground.  C’mon!  Get dirty!  DIVE!

Donnel was Donnel.  The first half is a yawn, the second half is extreme lobbying on behalf of a Heisman trophy.  He averaged 9.6 yards per carry.  Unreal.  Rashaad Penny was 14/65.  A good day to run.

Next week is rest and get well week.  Then South Alabama at their place.  This game will be a toughie.  The Aztec defense must realize its substantial potential the entire game or else the Jaguars beat us.

The Associated Press blesses us with a ranking of 22.

3-0.

 

 

Accolades make me nervous.  Too much praise this preseason from too many sources.  Does that offer balance?  I don’t know.  All I know is Aztec football history.  Sure, the last six years have been incredible, but I suffer the memory of the Luginbill/Tollner/Craft/Long (Chuck, not Rocky) years.  Thus, I want to embrace the preseason hype, but all I can do is nod and smile.

Defense (because everybody wants to read about the offense first).

The Line:  Two leave, thus two must be replaced.  Kyle Kelley wins the battle for the honor of pairing with the returning Alex Barrett at defensive end.  Sergio Phillips seems to be the starting nose guard if, a big if, Rocky decides not to pull Sergio and return him to the offensive line (more on the other line later).  Noble Hall is a worthy nose guard if Sergio returns to the other side of the ball.  Grade B.

Linebackers:  Calvin Munson returns for his final year.  A superior talent.  Randy Ricks and Austin Wyatt-Thayer complete a talented trio with Ronley Lakalaka and Ryan Dunn as the primary back-ups.  Grade A.

Back Five:  Remember, this is Rocky Long’s defense, not the standard offering.  The strength of the defense lies with these five.  Four starters return.  Malik Smith, Na’im McGee, Kameron Kelly and Damontae Kazee.  Billy Vaughn or Derek Babiash will complete the back five.  This group will set an Aztec record for most interceptions by a defensive backfield during 2016.  A talented second squad is ready with Parker Baldwin, Trey Lomax and Kalan Montgomery (these three would start for other MWC teams).  Opposing quarterbacks with little to no experience will not sleep prior to playing SDSU.  Chaos, fright, visions of sharp teeth and outright panic will overwhelm many a quarterback (and offensive coordinator) attempting to prepare and execute a game plan against the Aztec defense.  Grade A.

Punting (technically, a defensive skill.  I promise):  Tanner Blain was steady in foot application in 2015.  I expect the same foot in 2016.  Grade A.

Offense (at last).

Quarterback:  Christian Chapman guiding the 2015 team to wins against Nevada, Air Force and Cincinnati is proof of not only talent, but the ability and willingness to follow the script of offensive coordinator Jeff Horton.  Christian must improve upon his ability to throw downfield 40+ yards a half-dozen attempts as each game progresses.  Stretching the field makes for many a miss on behalf of Aztec running backs.  Christian can run as well.  Jimmy Walker and Ryan Agnew battle for appearances during wipe outs.  Even though Mr. Agnew won the back-up spot post-fall camp, I prefer Mr. Walker given his considerable junior college experience.  Nothing personal, Mr. Agnew.  Grade B.

Running Backs:  Donnel Pumphrey will politely run past Marshall Faulk at the end of the Cal game or no later than the Northern Illinois game.  His final total rushing yardage as an Aztec begins with a question mark.  Who knows?  However, I must admit concern with Donnel’s past brush with high ankle sprains.  No, I’m not a doctor, but his past must be acknowledged.  Rashaad Penny will receive one rushing opportunity for every two of Donnel’s.  He will impress.  I would not be surprised to witness Rashaad rush for 1,000 yards this year (shades of Chase Price).  Juwan Washington is receiving a lot of under the radar praise as the third back and kick return partner of Rashaad’s.  We shall see.  Grade A.

Fullback:  Nick Bawden (thank God he no longer throws a football) or Dakota Turner, your choice.  Candidly, I would rather Mr. Turner return to the defensive side of the ball.  I’m going with Nick since he’s played on the offensive side his entire time as an Aztec.  May he block well, not fumble and catch the occasional seven to ten yard pass for a first down.  Grade C.

Wide Receiver:  Sure, Coach Hunkie Cooper’s first year was 2015, but this group underperformed.  Yes, they can block downfield, but catching downfield is the goal, thus the position title, wide receiver, not wide blocker.  Mikah Holder will get the attention of opposing defensive backfields, thus some combination of Chase Favreau, Curtis Anderson, Eric Judge and Christian Cumberland must offer Christian Chapman open receivers who can catch a football in flight.  Grade C.

Tight End:  If Daniel Brunskill switches to right tackle, David Wells becomes the starting tight end.  David is 6′ 5″ and easy to find.  Kahale Warring (6′ 6″) or Darryl Richardson (6′ 5″) will pair with Mr. Wells during double tight end sets.  However, if Mr. Brunskill remains a tight end, he and Mr. Wells form a potent one-two combination for Christian Chapman.  Grade A with Mr. Brunskill, grade B without him.

Offensive Line:  Panic ignited when Joe Salcedo was injured.  Joe’s injury, while unfortunate, leads to opportunity for Nick Gerhard or David Servatius (switch to the right, David) to back up Daniel Brunskill . . . who was the reported (Rocky stated he was switching Mr. Brunskill to right tackle) fall camp favorite to start at right tackle!  I do not understand the hand wringing and hair pulling!  Calm down, my fellow Aztecs.  The left side is solid with Nico Siragusa at guard and Kwayde Miller at tackle.  Arthur Flores starts at center.  Antonio Rosales will partner with either Daniel Brunskill or a well-groomed replacement on the right side via the efforts of Line Coach Mike Schmidt.  I admit the second tier guys have little experience, but injury is why we recruit well and practice with intent to start.  Grade B.

Kicking Game:  John Baron has substantial leg.  Now he has the opportunity to show said leg during games.  I expect success on a 100% basis after touchdowns and a 75% basis (c’mon, he is a sophomore starting for the first time) from three land (inside the twenty-five, he must be perfect).  Grade C (until Mr. Baron proves his talent).

Return Game:  Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington return kickoffs (may there be few).  Mikah Holder and Damontae Kazee return punts (may there be many).  Coach Bobby  Hauck teaches the special team game to perfection.  Please continue.  Grade A.

Long Snapper (I forget nothing):  Ryan Simmons attempts to fill the substantial shoes of Jeff Overbaugh.  Good luck.  Grade C (see Kicking Game).

The 2016 Schedule.

Game 1, New Hampshire.  Hopefully, 45,000 plus butts in the seats (a Vin Scully line), thanks to the KGB fireworks show.  Yes, we have a horrible history of non-con first games.  I assume nothing other than Aztec starters sitting during the entire fourth quarter.

Game 2, Cal.  How I will grow weary of the week long chant of, deep breath, we-haven’t-beat-a-PAC-12-team-since-the-beginning-of-time crap that will dominate all media.  Hopefully, we beat the Bears at the Q.  This game may actually attract 40,000 fans without the benefit of fireworks.  Candidly, our defense wins or loses this game less the ill timed fumble or interception from our offense.

Game 3, Northern Illinois.  Our first road game.  The Huskies cannot pass which is unfortunate given our Back Five.  We will jam the first seven yards more often than not.  But, think Air Force and do not lose sight of a wandering Northern Illinois receiver twenty yards downfield.

Game 4, South Alabama (after an open weekend).  This game is of concern.  The Jaguars beat us in overtime at the Q last year (in my presence.  Sin).  Our second road game.  Thankfully this game is October first with cooler temperatures and a whole lot less dehydration.  South Alabama recruits kids who are a step below SEC talent, thus fast and quick is the tempo.  Much like Cal, our defense gets the win or the upset loss.

Game 5, UNLV.  A tip of the cap to Coach Tony Sanchez.  I thought his hire would be a disaster given his ascent from high school football to division one football, but no.  He did well in 2015 with little to use.  However, we win our first MW home game.  The Rebels’ defense is horrible.  Look for a minimum of 450+ yards of total offense on behalf of the Aztecs.

Game 6, Fresno State:  At Fresno is never easy.  The Bulldog faithful arrive in great numbers, inebriated and loud.  This year will feature an Aztec pummeling of the Bulldogs. Fresno State fans will flock to the exit during the third quarter.

Game 7, San Jose State:  We return to the Q for our first MWC test.  The Spartans are improving.  A fine coaching staff is turning SJSU into SDSU a-la the Hoke years.  They also return the talented quarterback, Kenny Potter.  This will be a fourth quarter game.  Our advantage is found at the Q.

Game 8, Utah State:  Late October in Logan, Utah.  Will leaves fall or snow fall?  The Aggies defense is a significant step below last year’s squad.  We should (dangerous word) dominate Utah State on both sides of the ball.

Game 9, Hawaii:  Back at the Q.  The year Hawaii is not a road game is a relief given distance and time change.  Not that the multi-colored arc in the sky has any chance of beating us.  Second and third tier Aztecs get a lot of playing time in this game.

Game 10, Nevada:  If we contain the Nevada quarterback Tyler Stewart, we win.  If Mr. Stewart has the proverbial hot hand, this game will be a nail biter.  However, similar to Utah State, the more time the Wolfpack defense spends on the field, the better.

Game 11, Wyoming:  Laramie in November.  Blizzard?  Torrential rain?  40 mph wind?  Wolves?  Or a nice day in the 50s?  Who knows?  Wyoming is an improved team with a stellar coaching staff.  Yes, we win, but not by a wide margin.

Game 12, Colorado State:  We return home.  We win and pick at least two passes from Nick Stevens.

MWC Championship Game, December 3.  We represent the West.  We probably play Boise. If we win, wow.  If we lose, we still go bowling.

Predicted Won-Lost:  I will entertain the sometimes mentioned 12-0.  Strange things happen, so why not a perfect season?  We were perfect three years in the 1960s.  More than likely, 10-2.  Worst case is 8-4.

 

 

Candidly, a good old fashioned butt-kicking.  The Cincinnati Bearcats never had a chance.

What is a great way to start the game?  Let’s have Rashaad Penny return the opening kickoff 100 yards (more like 105 from where he caught the kick in the end-zone) for a touchdown.  Mostly untouched.  Sweet.

We score each quarter.  We do not attempt a single field goal because putting the ball in the end zone is as easy as putting cheese on a burger.  Dakota Gordon scores not once, but twice.  Once by land, once by air.  Plus, Dakota is the leading receiver with 4/58.  A well deserved exit.

As impressive as Dakota’s scores were, Alex Barrett’s interception (Merry Christmas) returned for a churning 43 yard touchdown was a thing of beauty.

Christian Chapman’s 8/11/113 with, again, no interceptions, was serviceable if unspectacular.  Donnel Pumphrey’s 16 yard toss means more competition at the qb spot in 2016 . . . kidding.  336 total yards on behalf of the offense generates a surprising 35 points (Mr. Barrett excluded).  Squeezing production from every yard produced.  Nicely done, Coach Horton.

As for the other side, consider the Bearcats do not score until the end of the fourth quarter, they are reduced to six punts, suffer three interceptions and register a mere 279 total yards of offense (including a meager 77 yards rushing).  Well done, San Diego State defense.

The results that matter:  11-3.  10 straight wins.  A perfect October, November and December.  Oh yeah, winning the west division (undefeated) and Mountain West championship game.  Do not forget undefeated in MWC play.  Am I missing anything?  Probably not.  A superb year.  Let the success settle.  Get ready for 2016.

Oy, the first half was ugly.  Or to paraphrase Redd Foxx, so ugly, we were hit with the ugly stick.  Why was Jeff Horton running the majority of plays to the Aztec right?  One stuff after another.  We could not block on our right side the entire half.  No momentum was developed less the opening drive (which was nice).  Malik Smith loses his mind during the second quarter.  Rocky should have removed him from the game.  Mr. Smith was completely out of control.  Shame.

Speaking of shame, 13-10 at the half.

We finally arrived to play in the second half.  Maxwell Smith produced his best game as an Aztec quarterback.  11/14/180 yards.  No interceptions.  Plus, he averaged just shy of 13 yards per completion.  Not bad.  Donny Hageman nailing a 54 yard field goal was a team boost.  Donnel Pumphrey and Rashaad Penny both averaged 6 yards a carry.  Mr. Penny looked especially impressive against the CSU defense.  Dakota Gordon rumbled (all fullbacks rumble) for 52 yards on 4 carries.  The offense provided the most  balanced performance of the season.

The Aztec defense started poorly, but ended well.  Three picks.  Damontae Kazee returning his interception for a touchdown was a spear to the Rams offensive heart.  The back seven allowed the Rams a paltry 7.3 yards per completion.  A solid second half effort.  During the first half, I’m wondering “who are these guys?”  Thankfully, they disappeared.

Next week is our off week.  Soak the bumps and bruises.  Enjoy next Saturday.  Grab some sand.  Three MWC games remain.  5-0 in conference play is stellar.  Wyoming rolls into the Q Saturday, November 14.  The Cowboys feature an above average running game.  However, as long as Rocky keeps the boys focused, I’m leaning towards a 6-0 Mountain West result.

First, the good since the game wasn’t all bad.  The Aztec offense had the ball for 34 plus minutes.  Granted, we did little to nothing with the ball, but we at least possessed the ball.  Tanner Blain had 4 of 9 punts land inside the 20 yard line.  Plus, Mr. Blain averaged 40.6 yards per boot.  Rashaad Penny had a rushing line of 5/34 for better than six and a half yards per carry.  So much for the good.

Now for the bad.  The flags were flying.  Each time offensive momentum seemed to build, behold, the yellow flag.  12 penalties for 136 yards stops a lot of momentum.  5 personal fouls (a couple seemed less than devious, though bad football cannot be explained away by less than average officiating) indicates an unprepared team.

During the third quarter, Cal found their running game.  Daniel Lasco and Vic Enwere (especially) ran through the San Diego State defense like a fat man cutting a steak.  Both Mr. Lasco and Mr. Enwere averaged 6.5 yards per carry.  Both these gentlemen were well acquainted with the Aztec defensive backs because those five were all that stood between Mr. Lasco and Mr. Enwere consuming more yardage.

The combined efforts of Maxwell Smith and Christian Chapman resulted in 14/32 for 173 yards with 2 interceptions (one each).  After the impressive first drive that resulted in the only SDSU score, Mr. Smith returned to his USD game demeanor:  largely ineffective.  Mr. Chapman displayed impressive mobility coupled with bad decision-making.  Aztec coaches Long, Horton and Morgan must decide between Mr. Smith’s 10/19/136 or Mr. Chapman’s 4/14/37 performance to determine the best season solution at the quarterback spot.  I’m not a fan of rotating quarterbacks, though I’m sure none of the above mentioned coaches care.  While my prior posts have shown a clear preference for Mr. Smith to be the starting quarterback, I now find myself lobbying on behalf of the more dynamic (he can run when he needs to) Mr. Chapman, youth be damned.  Candidly, when the Aztecs register a grand total of 325 offensive yards and a long pass of a pathetic 33 yards, let us lean decidedly to the future development of a redshirt freshman.

Speaking of total yards, our lauded Aztec defense was awful.  Specifically, Damontae Kazee and Malik Smith were less than stellar.  While the blitz was occasionally effective, our lack of defensive pressure allowed the Cal quarterback far too much time far too often.  Yet, I do not offer that fact as an excuse for our bad pass coverage.  Allowing 485 total yards on the road or home or anywhere is further proof of an unprepared defense.

Thus, game two.

As for next week against South Alabama, beware and be prepared.